Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michael Simms: Nigel

I’ve been reading an obituary 
About Nigel 
The lonely gannet of Mana Island 
Who fell in love 
With a concrete statue
 
And I’ve been wondering 
What his story says 
About desire 
Because I’ve come to believe
Without desire there is nothing
 
--
 
Nigel with no other gannets
On the island
Wooed a fake bird 
Building her 
A nest of dirt and seaweed
 
Like Nigel we exist
Only because desire urges us
Toward the world
 
You might say
The beloved
Is the world and the reason
For the world
 
We are desire
Nothing but desire
You might say 
 
--
 
Conservationists hoped 
The colony
Of 80 fake birds 
Would attract real birds
And establish a breeding colony
 
But Nigel was the only gannet
Who arrived and he stayed
For her
 
It’s important to know
That without the reaching 
There is nothing
Without desire we do not exist
 
No matter if the beloved
Is a fantasy no matter
Whether memories 
Are real
 
--
 
Nigel was a lovely bird
One woman said 
But a bit confused
He was likely kicked out
Of another colony and so 
He came here
 
The real and the ideal
Live side by side
On the island
 
Noesis and noema
Hold hands 
Or in this case
Wings
 
--
 
We want to believe
Nigel was happy
Living alone
With her
 
And then
Three gannets arrived
And built nests
 
But Nigel shunned the new arrivals 
And remained on the other side
Of the island
With her
 
Like many of us
He preferred the ideal
To the real
 
--
 
We love. We hate
We accept. We reject
We exist only because we desire
 
Last week Nigel’s body was found 
Next to his concrete love 
By ranger Chris Bell 
Who also lives alone on the island 

Michael Simms’s books include American Ash (Ragged Sky, 2020).

Copyright 2020 Michael Simms.

Nigel and his beloved (Daily Telegraph)

16 comments on “Michael Simms: Nigel

  1. Daniel Smith
    September 5, 2020

    My colleague, friend, artist and writer Nigel, a Canadian, lost his son unfortunately; as I watched and listened to him navigate the hidden chutes of grief over the past couple years, I find your poem to be sublime and multi-meaningful to me. I rail against my own desires, my own griefs, and as stable as concrete might be over human entanglements, I prefer the latter, and desire is often the currency I suspect. Nice poem. Nice obit. May we each have as nice a tribute. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. kim4true
    September 5, 2020

    Lovely, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Vincent Spina
    September 5, 2020

    Lovely poem. We exist because we desire.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Barbara Huntington
    September 5, 2020

    As I look around at reminders of travel, reminders of peace, reminders of love. As I share another meal with Jizo, I understand.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Johanna Ely
    September 5, 2020

    Your poem, and the story of Nigel made me cry, but that’s okay. Thank you, Johanna

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    • Vox Populi
      September 5, 2020

      Thank you, Johanna! Yes, I was very moved when I read Nigel’s obituary. It made me think about loneliness and desire.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Jim Newsome
    September 5, 2020

    Michael,
    A powerful poem, rounded off with the final two lines, which got me up from the screen, while exclaiming out loud: oh my. -the desires this poem invokes, including your own- Grief touched by it, with wonder and the life force too. Let’s raise a toast to the old boy…and his love, who may survive him for centuries.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. kennethrosenpoet
    September 5, 2020

    Right you are, Michael. What in the world’s merry-go-round (see the Rilke poem Nims included in early editions of WESTERN WIND), isn’t a Ponzi scheme, musical chairs, or worse, 3 card monte or a shell game with one hard pea and a hole in the table? Nice poem.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Jose A Alcantara
    September 5, 2020

    Michael,

    This is wonderful. As I am currently heartbroken, Nigel speaks to me. And though the real bird has flown, I’m not quite ready for her concrete replacement. Maybe someday, but not yet.

    Liked by 2 people

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